Jon Daniels And The Last Crusade

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The Holy Grail for Jon Daniels and Co. each and every offseason and/or trade deadline is acquiring an ace. Every year the Rangers are “reported” to always be on the cusp of acquiring a big-time pitcher: Lee, Sabathia and now Greinke. In many cases, they are the bridesmaid, but never the bride. Greinke was quoted on Tuesday as saying “At one point I favored Texas…but at the end that changed.”  
This isn’t a new phenomenon that only JD has dealt with as the Rangers GM, but a problem that cursed this team since its inception. Texas just missed out on Zito in 2002 and always seemed to be Clemens’ second choice each time he moved to a different team. So what gives? Money is usually the prime factor for a free agent pitcher, but other factors are weighted including park factors, AL/NL, and heat.

Park factors: Rangers Ballpark in Arlington is continually one of the most hitter-friendly ballparks (via ESPN): 2012 (4th), 2011 (1st), 2010 (6th), 2009 (7th) and 2008 (1st).

American League: All things being equal, pitchers prefer to pitch in the National League where they don’t have to face a DH constantly. The future effects of this remain to be unseen as we begin to see extended interleague play beginning in 2013.

The heat: Fans are tired of hearing this as an excuse as a reason why pitchers don’t like to pitch in RBiA, but how could it not factor? With an average August temperature of 96 degrees and no way to escape it, players routinely have to take IV fluids before games. Why would a pitcher subject himself to this if he can get the same money pitching in a more enjoyable environment?

The above factors aren’t anything new to even the most casual of Ranger observer, but fans need to be reminded as to reasons why the Rangers organization has never signed a big-time free agent pitcher in their prime. The closest they have come was Chan Ho Park, Kevin Millwood, Nolan when he was 42 and Roy Oswalt this past season.

Is this necessarily a bad thing? In general, signing any free agents to long-term contracts fails more times than not. It’s a hindrance to the organization, but it just means that JD and Co. have to be more creative. This is why signing Yu Darvish last offseason was crucial to the franchise. The team had a unique opportunity to acquire a potential ace without having to give up prospects and with said player having little-to-no say in which team they went to because of the bidding process. Texas can also acquire key pitchers via trade (Lee in 2010) or draft them (Kevin Brown in ’86).

Does this mean that Daniels and Nolan shouldn’t even bother with flirting with an ace caliber pitcher on the free agent market? Of course not, but until that deal is consummated, I won’t hold my breath.

 
Eddie Middlebrook is the Chat Coordinator and Junior Staff Writer for ShutDowninning. He can be reached at Eddie.Middlebrook@ShutDowninning.com or on Twitter @emiddlebrook

Eddie Middlebrook
Eddie Middlebrook is Senior Writer for @ballparkbanter9 and @shutdowninning. Formerly with @wfaasports and @FoxSportsSW. @IBWAA member. Eddie can be found on Twitter @emiddlebrook.

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